National Party's health leader Michael Woodhouse has promised to take New Zealand's biggest ever cancer petition - signed by more than 100,000 Kiwis - to Parliament and says he will fight to drastically better the country's public health system.

Woodhouse was one of 650 New Zealanders who gathered in Invercargill this weekend to join dying dad Blair Vining in his last hope for change.

Vining - with his wife Melissa and their daughters Lilly and Della-May - are the backbone of the petition calling on the Government to fund a national cancer agency.

"Every New Zealander should have the right to the best treatment regardless of money, age, ethnicity, and location," Melissa says.

They say the agency needs to run independently of political interference to hold District Health Boards and medical professionals to account.


The family's pleas for change come after Vining was told he had to wait eight weeks for an "urgent appointment" with an oncologist after being diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.

The 38-year-old Southland father says he's been let down by the public health system that fails to hold District Health Boards to account for life-threatening wait times.

Refusing to wait until his "due date", Vining managed to book an appointment within a week with Dunedin oncologist Chris Jackson - who is also the medical director of Cancer Society New Zealand.

This is Harrison one of our many dedicated petition collectors. Today’s total 82092. 5 days to go Please sign #BetterCancerCare4ALLNZers

Posted by Blair Vining’s Epic Journey on Saturday, 22 June 2019

Originally told it was a matter of weeks before he would be dead, Vining has had an extra five months - and he's still fighting today.

But it comes at a cost. He pays about $35,000 a month for medication that is not funded and not covered by their private health insurance. He also pays for travel and accommodation to get treatment three hours' drive away because it is not available in their home town of Winton, in Southland.

Five months ago, Vining and his wife Melissa told their story in front of hundreds of cancer experts from around the world at a conference held in Wellington.

Among the crowd was Health Minister David Clark. Melissa looked directly in his eyes and told him he had failed her, her husband and their two daughters.

In response, Clark announced his Ministry would get work right away to come up with a plan to tackle New Zealand's biggest killer.


This week, Clark will tell the public the Government's plan. However, a letter Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wrote to Vining's daughter Lilly suggests an agency is not on the cards.

Woodhouse has promised to fight to make it happen. Dozens of stacks of paper were given to Woodhouse at Saturday's event.

National MP Michael Woodhouse. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National MP Michael Woodhouse. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Due to Parliament's petition page breaking down multiple times, the time-frame to sign the petition has been extended to July 7.

URGENT UPDATE; problem with parliament petition website! Thanks to all of you have contacted us advising you can not sign the petition online, the IT team at parliament are working really hard to resolve this. As a result of this technical issue we have had to extend the petition until the 7 July. The paper petitions will still be presented on Saturday night to Hamish Walker MP for Clutha-Southland and Michael Woodhouse MP please keep signing (if you can) #bettercancercare4ALLNZers

Posted by Blair Vining’s Epic Journey on Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Woodhouse will present it to Parliament after that. A date for that is yet to be set.